Should You Start or Join a Community? (Attended by Alfred)
This discussion was led by Laird Schaub from Sandhill Farm
in Missouri. He started Sandhill with
five friends 37 years ago, and emphasized that joining is much much easier and
is the preferred choice, unless the place one wants to live lacks existing
suitable communities, or if one is the kind of high-energy person that likes to
For those starting a community, he pointed out that being near an existing community can help a lot, especially with neighbor relations. It’s also good to do research on what works and what doesn’t, especially now that lots of online resources exist at www.ic.org and elsewhere. Once a community is started, members will need to transition from “pioneer” mode to “settler” mode, where relationships and consistency are more important than just getting stuff done. This can be difficult for some people to do.
For those thinking of joining as a group, it is best to look for a larger community that can absorb a group of people, or one that is aging and needs new folks. There are lots of ecovillages in this situation today, however, many are located in the countryside where job opportunities are scarce. In addition to evaluating the location, shared values need to be considered, such as environmentalism, spirituality, rules, how much space is shared, and how many and what kind of interaction is expected. Watch out for places that claim they don’t have any problems as they must be hiding something.
Whether one wants to start or join, practice is highly recommended. Laird suggested living in a community for a couple weeks to get a feel of what works and what you might actually want. Living in a vibrant urban neighborhood can provide a good substitute for those not quite ready to commit to a community.